Last year, I was part of the cohort that went through SEDA’s Senior Fellowship programme. My wonderful mentor, Ruth Pilkington, suggested that I go back to my SEDA Fellow portfolio I wrote a few years prior, and reflect on how my interpretation of the SEDA values had changed over the course of my journey from academic developer to academic development leader. I found this tremendously helpful, and as the new Senior Fellow Scheme Lead, it is something that I would encourage everyone who is considering Senior Fellowship to do.
Developing understanding of how people learn
As an academic developer, my learners are other teaching staff at my institution. I teach postgraduate courses, workshops and seminars for staff, rather than undergraduate students. To best support the teaching staff, I need to know both how they learn, and how their students learn. As an academic development leader, my ‘learners’ now also include other academic developers, and (strategic) academic leaders, both in my institution and elsewhere. My concept of a learner has shifted, and not just in how they learn, but also in how that learning is then enacted. In particular at the strategic level, there are many other competing factors for decision-making than just the academic one.
Practicing in ways that are scholarly, professional and ethical
These competing factors in decision-making are often, but not always what I would call valid. Sometimes it is not research-informed, sometimes it’s politics, sometimes it’s the easy way out, and sometimes it’s the latest fad in higher education. As an academic development leader, practicing in a way that is scholarly, professional and ethical, now not only includes my own practice, but also the practices of my institution. This means I don’t always toe the party line, and will speak (research-informed) truth to power.
Working with and developing learning communities
As an academic developer, I work to build a communities of colleagues interested in various aspects of teaching and learning. I am also part of a community of academic developers, in my own institution and (inter)nationally. Like in the first value, my concept of community has now broadened and my role in those communities has shifted. Whereas I was a member of communities and mostly a receiver of support, I’m now part of more communities, am more actively establishing new communities and taking leadership roles.
Valuing diversity and promoting inclusivity
For me, this value has also moved more to the institutional, strategic and policy levels, going beyond supporting teaching staff in making their teaching and learning more inclusive, and leading by example in my own teaching. As a Senior Fellow, I have become more confident in being consciously vocal, trying to use the many unearned privileges I have as a white, going-on-middle-aged male and relatively senior academic to promote diversity and inclusivity in institution-wide practices and in our professional community, and be a voice for those who are not typically heard.
Continually reflecting on practice to develop ourselves, others and processes
This value changed for me similarly to the previous one. I work more at the strategic, policy and institution level, as well as toward the development of academic developers. I encourage academic leaders to reflect, in particular around the impact of processes and policy on teaching and learning.
The challenge Ruth presented to me turned into a great opportunity to reflect on my journey as a practicing academic developer, an academic development leader, and a scholar of academic development. It gave me a good overview of how the SEDA values have influenced me, and changed meaning for me, as my career and responsibilities have evolved. The exercise has also given the rest of the new CPD team, Victoria Wilson-Crane (SEDA Fellowship CPD Framework Coordinator), Arushi Manners (FSEDA Scheme Lead), and myself as the SFSEDA Scheme Lead a clear way to distinguish between SEDA Fellows and Senior Fellows, and to better advice interested colleagues on the type of Fellowship that is most appropriate for them. If you are interested in pursuing SEDA Fellowship or Senior Fellowship, please get in touch with us.
Dr Erik Brogt, SFHEA FHERDSA SFSEDA is a Reader in Academic Development at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. His main interests are in the educational psychology of higher education, curriculum innovation, supporting academics in helping their students succeed, and academic development as a vehicle for strategic change. In addition to being the SFSEDA Scheme Lead, Erik is the founder and current Chair of the Academic Development SIG in HERDSA, which can be found on Facebook and LinkedIn.